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Historic Kentucky Rest Area named to 2010 Most Endangered Roadside Places List

The Society for Commercial Archeology has included one of Kentucky's two remaining original Interstate rest areas in its Falling by the Wayside: 10 Most Endangered Roadside Places list for 2010.  The rest area was recognized for its history, architectural design and the potential threat to its site and structure, read more...

This Rest Area Matters!


Join the effort to preserve an underrecognized part of our transportation history by helping to document rest areas that are important to you.


The National Trust for Historic Preservation sponsored a summer photo contest, This Place Matters, in an effort to document places of significance all around the country. would like to see our nation’s rest areas included among those places that are important to us.  Even though the National Trust has concluded it summer contest we would like your continued help in documenting our nation's rest areas.


This is a great opportunity to make your rest area visits a little more interesting.  Download the This Place Matters Sign and keep it with you for those planned and unplanned rest area stops.  Please send us your pictures we will post them to our own This Rest Area Matters slideshow.


This Place Matters Home Page

E-mail your This Rest Area Matters! Photos to us

This Rest Area Matters! Slide show

Why Rest Areas Matter

Safety rest areas are an important part of our national transportation system and their significance is multi-fold.  Dating to the late 1950s, the national safety rest area system has been offering relief, rest and visual amusement to travelers on Interstate Highways for 50 years. The sites were designed to provide an oasis in unfamiliar terrain and respite from long stretches of Interstate Highway.  When the Interstates opened rest areas were often the only opportunity for stopping that travelers would encounter for significant numbers of miles.  Gradually business were established at highway interchanges and today, as most of us are aware, motorists can expect to encounter a variety of fast food restaurants, gas stations and truck stops at frequent intervals along the Interstate System.  However, while contemporary American motorists are met with more choices along the roadway, safety rest areas are far from obsolete.  They continue to serve the vital function of offering frequent and convenient rest and relief to motorists, RV travelers and truck drivers; rest areas offer something that fast food restaurants and truck stops do not, a chance to experience a sensibility of local place.  Rest areas are regionally specific and representative of the vast and changing American landscape.  They offer motorists a window to the local and foster a connection with the legacy of our transportation heritage. 


Closing rest areas and welcome centers is currently a growing trend in states seeking to mitigate increasing budget shortfalls.  Such action threatens not only highway safety, but the historical integrity of the rest area system. 


Public support is vital…and you can help


  • Voice your Opinion - Express your opinions and concerns about potential closures when they are announced.  Watch for a request for public comment, if one is not issued write to the department of transportation announcing the closure, a link to state DOT offices can be found at:
  • Submit a Comment Card - There are often comment boxes in rest areas, when you use them, leave comments in support of keeping rest areas open and express why you feel this is important to the traveling public. 
  • Contact your State DOT - If you are concerned about the rest areas in your state contact the maintenance division of the department of transportation and ask about their long term plans, or merely send a letter to the department expressing your support for rest areas.  It is important to express support before closures are announced, if departments of transportation know that rest areas are actively valued, they may hesitate before placing them in the expendable category. 
  • Letter to the Editor - Write to your local editor or the editor of a major paper in a state where closures are being announced.  The issue will become more important in the public mind as more attention is given to it. 


If you are interested in receiving occasional updates on rest area issues let us know at:



Memory Project: Documenting Places through Recollection and Perception is conducting an ongoing project that seeks to gather and record the intangible documentation of the nation’s Interstate Highway System, and particularly Interstate rest areas; the memories of those who have traveled the roadways.

During the twentieth century the landscape of our country was transformed by successive road building that culminated in the construction of the Interstate Highway System.  Just as our landscape has evolved so has our experience of traveling through that landscape.  Images of road culture and travel nostalgia have become American icons and millions of Americans have grown up enduring or reveling in the infamous family road trip. 

We are interested in your stories.  Did you grow up traveling on rural highways or multi-lane Interstate expressways?  How has traveling the nation’s roads for business or pleasure formed your cultural perspective?  We are very interested in your memories of rest areas.  Do you recall stopping in these sites?  Humorous stories are welcome and encouraged!   

Please send us your travel and rest area memories and stories short or long. 


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